The most awaited tournament of the year – the 2021 Indian Premier League kicked off on 9th April at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai.
See also: Latest news on the IPL 2021 Suspension
After a lot of careful planning, BCCI gave the green signal to conduct the 14th season at four different venues – Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, and Ahmedabad.
But the recent spike in the COVID cases in India has created a ruckus over conducting the IPL in India.
The situation has made BCCI think about continuing the IPL in India or moving to UAE like last season. Let’s have a look at the bigger picture of the impact.
With a 177% increase in the number of positive cases and a 353% increase in casualties, India was severely hit by the Pandemic.Cricket Betting
IPL so far:
After announcing IPL to be conducted on Indian soil, the franchise started calling their squads way early than the schedule to follow the bio bubble conditions.
The overseas players also joined as per the rules and regulations with expectations like players from South Africa who were playing a series against Pakistan at that time. But everything did not plan out smooth as expected with various players, team staff, and groundsmen tested positive for COVID.
KKR opener Nitish Rana was the first player whose test results came positive. He was soon followed by RCB opener Devdutt Padikkal, DC all-rounder Axar Patel, and another RCB player Daniel Sams.
The list didn’t stop there. Mumbai Indians team staff member Kiran More tested positive along with 10 groundsmen of Wankhede Stadium. With a looming possibility of moving the start ahead, BCCI gave a go for the 14th edition as per the schedule.
So far 26 matches have been played but the COVID scare has taken its head out of the hoodie to scare the remaining season.
How did the situation change for the IPL?
On an inaugural day, India registered 144, 829 COVID cases. It was the start of the second wave in India. The cases started growing so rapidly that on 30th April the count reached 402,110 cases.
This started the overseas players to leave the tournament. Rajasthan Royals’ Liam Livingstone left sighting Bio-bubble fatigue. His fellow teammate Andrew Tye joined him soon.
Two more Australians Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa left the RCB camp for personal reasons.
Delhi Capitals spinner Ravi Ashwin left the series to take care of 10 members of his family who tested positive. Umpire Nithin Menon left too to take care of his family suffering from COVID.
With all these obstacles, the BCCI, as well as IPL governing council, started facing backlash on conducting the IPL in India. Various social media platforms were flooded with angst against the continuation of IPL when the country was suffering.
They did try to convince the media saying IPL will bring joy to the country which is already suffering from the pandemic. This made IPL governing body look into the change of the venue.
Is IPL moving?
Well, it’s a million or we can say a billion dollars question. India is currently a hot spot for the COVID. Though there is no direct connection to stopping IPL at this moment, sometimes you go with the sentiments of the country.
A backlash can bring down the marketing value as well as the popularity of the league. BCCI has ICC T20 World Cup to host this year.
There is a possibility that BBCI can move the tournament outside India.Manish Khorgade, Cricket Betting
BCCI had faced such a challenge in the past. After a successful inaugural season, they moved the IPL 2009 in South Africa as the general elections were held in India. 5 years later in 2014, they faced the same situation.
But this time they created a two-phase IPL. The first phase was played in the UAE while the franchises came back to India to play the second season. The last season was fully hosted in UAE due to the pandemic.
With this experience in moving the IPL outside the country, it can be a successful possibility this season too.
Before the start of the season, BCCI did not mull out the option of moving IPL to UAE for another season. As arranged last season, the UAE has three venues ready to host the 8 franchises – Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah.
The facilities are ready for the bio-bubble-centric IPL. Players are adjusted to the UAE environment. So What is stopping BCCI from moving the IPL outside India? Even South Africa would love to host the biggest tournament of the year. CSA needs money.
Half the tournament is almost over. The players have already gone through a bio-bubble. Moving the entire tournament from India to UAE will be a hassle in this situation. The logistics need to be checked and should be in place.
The MOU and hosting agreement with the UAE government and Emirates Cricket Board, Permission from the Indian Government will be time-consuming and annoying. Additionally, the Franchises have now built up the squads as per the Indian pitches and they will find a lot of difficulties in moving.
Another bio-bubble will affect the players’ mental health as many of them have been moving from one place to another. BCCI has already lost money because of the zero spectators policy in COVID.
Moving is another way of spending more money. So, they would not like to move. And more importantly, a change in the schedule will affect India’s preparation for the Test Championship.
If BCCI changes the venue, there will be pressure from all the boards to move the upcoming world cup outside India too.
With the rise in the COVID in India, nothing can be cancelled out as of now. If the situation persists or the number of cases increases then, BCCI might think of moving the IPL outside the country.
Seeing the current situation BCCI must have taken the necessary steps to move forward. In that case, the Emirates Cricket Board must have been told to stand by to host some part of IPL this season too.
Let’s hope that this season will be finished as planned rather than facing setbacks from moving or cancelling.
A 3 and half hours of cricket are definitely required for the country that needs a little distraction this time of the year.